Title
Push and bite: trade-offs between burrowing and biting in a burrowing skink (**Acontias percivali**)Push and bite: trade-offs between burrowing and biting in a burrowing skink (**Acontias percivali**)
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Research group
Functional Morphology
Publication type
article
Publication
London,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
Biological journal of the Linnean Society. - London
Volume/pages
102(2011):1, p. 91-99
ISSN
0024-4066
ISI
000285305000009
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Trade-offs are thought to be important in constraining evolutionary divergence, as they may limit phenotypic diversification. Limbless animals that burrow head-first have been suggested to be evolutionarily constrained in the development of a large head size and sexual head shape dimorphism because of potential trade-offs associated with burrowing. Here we use an acontiine skink (Acontias percivali) to test for the existence of trade-offs between traits thought to be important in burrowing (speed and force). As head size dimorphism has been shown to be limited in acontiine lizards, thus suggesting constraints on head size and shape, we additionally explore the potential for trade-offs between burrowing and biting. Our data show that A. percivali uses a burrowing style different from those previously described for caecilians and amphisbaenians, which relies on the use of extensive lateral and dorsoventral head movements. Our data also show that animals use their entire bodies to generate force, as peak force was determined by total length only. Additionally, both bite force and the time needed to burrow into the substrate were principally determined by relative head width, suggesting a trade-off between biting and burrow speed. Performance data were indeed suggestive of a correlation between bite force and the time needed to burrow, but additional data are needed to confirm this pattern. In summary, our data suggests that trade-offs may exist, and may have been of crucial importance in shaping the evolution of head shape in A. percivali, and burrowing lizards more generally.
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